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Lois C.

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  • HIV Organ Policy Equity Act

    by Representative Lois Capps

    Posted on 2013-11-12

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    CAPPS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    I rise in strong support of the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act, commonly known as the ``HOPE Act.'' The HOPE Act is a critical step towards improving the health and well-being of persons living with HIV and AIDS and of strengthening our Nation's organ transplant system.

    Many of us remember the fear and worry that surrounded AIDS in the 1980s. At first, no one even knew what caused AIDS, and the diagnosis was considered a swift death sentence. In that time of fear and the unknown, a blanket ban was placed on transplanting any HIV-positive organs, even for the purposes of research. However, in the last 25 years, medical research and technology has transformed HIV/AIDS care and treatment. Now, thanks to these breakthroughs, HIV is a more chronic condition. This has led to improved life expectancies-- something we can and should celebrate--but it also means that HIV- positive people are more likely to encounter medical complications as they age. They face unique complications as the powerful drugs that keep their HIV at bay often take a hard toll on their bodies, putting them at increased risk for ailments like kidney and liver disease, and for some of these problems, the only treatment is to wait on the same long waiting lists, as all Americans do, for an organ transplant.

    There might be a better way.

    According to transplant experts, each year, we toss out hundreds of HIV-positive organs that could otherwise be viable for transplantation into other HIV-positive people. These organs have the potential to save lives and lessen the transplant waiting lists for all Americans, but, instead, they are wasted because of the archaic, blanket ban that prohibits even the research to see if they could be used by those who already are HIV positive. That is why we need to pass the HOPE Act today.

    The HOPE Act would create a pathway, grounded in medical science, to research the feasibility and safety of positive-to-positive organ transplantation. Think about it. This is a chance to possibly shorten the waiting lists for everyone waiting for an organ, to deliver better health outcomes for those in need, and to lower health care costs by moving individuals off of the dialysis rolls, all while maintaining the safety and integrity of our current organ transplantation system. That is what the HOPE Act can and will help to do. It is common sense and fiscally responsible. It is the right thing to do for all Americans who are awaiting transplants.

    I would like to thank and acknowledge Senator Boxer and Senator Coburn for championing this issue in the Senate. With their leadership, the HOPE Act passed by unanimous consent in June. Also, I would especially like to thank for their leadership my colleagues Mr. Harris, who is the Republicans' lead on this bill, and also Dr. Burgess, who is a cosponsor and a strong supporter of this bill. Finally, I would like to thank all of the advocates who have worked so hard in support of this legislation.

    I am pleased to stand with an incredibly broad coalition of health professionals and HIV/AIDS advocates in backing S. 330. The HOPE Act is a commonsense bill that creates a path forward for research on this issue. It has strong support on both sides of the Capitol and on both sides of the aisle. It is a critically important issue. It is an opportunity to save lives. That is [[Page H6969]] why I am urging a ``yes'' vote today on S. 330, the HOPE Act.

    I reserve the balance of my time.

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